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Backstage at Fenty x Puma AW17Photography Lucie Rox

Rihanna’s Fenty show took PFW back to high school

For her third Fenty x Puma offering, the singer took over the French National Library to give us some lessons in how to dress

It seems Rihanna has been feeling collegiate of late. Fresh from going to Harvard to accept her ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ honour, the singer took over La Bibliothèque Nationale de France (that’s the French National Library, by the way) last night for the third installment of her Fenty x Puma collaboration. Redecorating it with lockers and flags, it felt kind of like the school of your All-American dreams; where the setting was extravagant and everyone was really, really ridiculously good looking (obviously).

Opening with an omniscient voice asking the audience to open their books, only to segway into Radiohead’s “Creep” before kicking it up a notch with Die Antwoord’s “Happy Go Sucky Fucky” – this was clearly Rih’s kind of school, not the one your parents wanted you to go to. That is, one where the desks became runways, and the likes of Cara Delevigne and rapper, Future were in attendance. (If it appeases the ’rents, there was a Keats poem in there amongst the thumping bass at one point.) 

Walking the desk/runways were none other than top models Joan Smalls, Stella Maxwell, and Jamie Bochert. That’s not all – the stellar cast also featured gap-toothed, shaven-headed beauty Slick Woods, who opened, and Hanne Gaby Odiele who, in a particularly punk moment, literally tore up a book as she took to the stage. It was a visual metaphor for what was going on with the clothes: preppy plaid got an edge printed on floor-length puffa coats, pleated skirts were cut and spliced into asymmetric short hybrids, and tops came cropped for maximum underboob flashing, or were just not there at all. Badly behaved school girls indeed.

Familiar letterman motifs were recontextualized, and Rih even managed to turn American football boots into sexy thigh-highs (I mean, if anyone could, it would be her). But no high school would be complete without teenage alienation – enter the goths, who starred in black on black looks, topped off with neon hair. Nearly everything was branded with the Fenty crest, and at times topped off with cute-kitsch bear backpacks. Finally, headmistress Rih took her bow in a furry lime green coat, and paper flew down from the rafters like every school’s out scene you’ve seen on film.  

Consider the Fenty class of 2017 in session.